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Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Modernize the Violence Against Women Act

WASHINGTONU.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) today introduced the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization Act.
The bill, which would reauthorize VAWA through 2027, preserves advancements made in previous reauthorizations and includes a number of additional improvements to the current law. In addition to Senators Feinstein, Ernst, Durbin and Murkowski, the bill is cosponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.).

Click HERE or on the image above to watch Senator Ernst’s remarks at today’s press conference. The Iowa senator and her colleagues were joined by Angelina Jolie, representatives from violence prevention and law enforcement groups, and a survivor of domestic violence.

Click HERE to download a photo of Senator Ernst at today’s press conference.
“As a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault, I know firsthand the horrific experience too many women face at the hands of a perpetrator. That’s why for three years I’ve worked diligently and across the aisle to craft a bill that will modernize this important law to ensure my fellow survivors are supported and empowered. I’m proud our work resulted in bipartisan legislation that can do just that,” said Senator Ernst.
“This bill is the result of a true bipartisan effort, written in partnership with those working to prevent violence and support survivors,” said Senator Feinstein. “We have been working for three years to reach this agreement and reauthorize this important law. This bill provides important protections to survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. I hope the Senate will move quickly to pass it.”
“This bill represents the very best of Washington: a bipartisan coalition coming together to prove this country’s commitment to protecting the most vulnerable,” said Senator Durbin. “A modernized Violence Against Women Act will strengthen what has been a critical lifeline to victims and survivors of abuse for nearly three decades. We need to ensure every survivor, whether they live in rural Alaska or urban Illinois, has help in a moment of crisis.”
“The provisions in this reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act will not only address the barriers survivors face in seeking justice, but will save countless lives,” said Senator Murkowski. “This bipartisan legislation works to empower victims, bolster supportive services to those who have been victims of violence, strengthen law enforcement, and improve existing statutes to close loopholes, and correct injustices that have existed even before VAWA’s inception. Communities all across Alaska have lacked means to seek help or justice for far too long. This legislation addresses those existing problems and will help communities in preventing violence toward women and children and keep them safe. That is our ultimate goal.”
In addition to Senators Ernst, Feinstein, Durbin and Murkowski, the bill is cosponsored by seven other Republican Senators, including Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.).
“In my work on this issue, I have learned that no state, no community, and no family is immune to the horrors of domestic violence.  In Maine, domestic violence has historically been involved in approximately half of annual homicides,” said Senator Collins. “By reauthorizing and strengthening the Violence Against Women Act through this bill, we will help prevent domestic violence and rescue survivors from the nightmare of abuse. Together, we can take a stand against violence and help make every home, for every person, a safe haven.”
“The Violence Against Women Act has played a critical role in funding intervention and support services for women and children who have been victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and human trafficking – both in helping them to find justice and also helping them to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of these heinous crimes,” said Senator Portman. “This bipartisan reauthorization package introduced today is essential in our continued efforts to combat violence against women and I encourage all of my Senate colleagues to support it when it comes to the floor.”
“Ending domestic violence has long been a priority of mine,” Senator Capito said. “I have consistently supported the Violence Against Women Act, and voted to reauthorize this critical legislation twice as a member of the House of Representatives. In conversations with local leaders in West Virginia, they have conveyed that the funding and support VAWA provides to local organizations working to combat domestic violence in our state is a ‘lifeline’ to the work they do. I’m proud to join with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle today to introduce legislation that will ensure survivors of domestic violence have the resources they need, and expand efforts to prevent these crimes in the future.”
“The Violence Against Women Act funds critical programs for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, and it has made a difference in the lives of thousands since its passage nearly 30 years ago,” said Senator Cornyn. “While not perfect, this compromise will extend critical programs for survivors that were left lapsed for far too long. I want to commend Senators Ernst and Murkowski for their tireless work on behalf of victims nationwide to get us to this point.”
“I’m proud to be an original co-sponsor of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which will enhance the tools we have to prevent and punish violent crimes and provide more support and resources for victims, survivors, and law enforcement,” said Senator Tillis. “I look forward to working with my colleagues on getting this critical legislation quickly passed and signed into law.”

“The Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act is a matter of great personal significance for me and my family. My adopted son became part of our family following the scourge of violence against his mother. We thank God every day for our son, and are constantly reminded of the obligation we have to safeguard girls, women, and mothers from harmful situations,” said Senator Cramer. “There should be no tolerance for violence against women. The Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act provides support for shelters, which are safe havens for women and children, promotes policies to safeguard victims of domestic abuse, and includes tools for law enforcement and prosecutors to seek justice. This bill increases due process for all Americans and I urge all my colleagues to join us in getting the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act signed into law.”
“Domestic violence brings fear, hopelessness, pain and depression into the lives of every victim,” said Senator Moran. “We must not only work to end this type of crime, but also care for those who have become victims. This legislation will help give a voice to victims of domestic violence, provide new resources to combat these crimes in rural communities and expand programs to support sexual harassment victims."
Key provisions of the bill:
  • Provides services, protection and justice for young victims of violence, including extending the Rape Prevention and Education grant program and improving grants focused on prevention education for students in institutions of higher education.
  • Enhances judicial and law enforcement tools through reauthorization of the Justice Department’s STOP Violence Against Women Formula Program, known as the STOP Program, and expansion of the STOP Program to better support survivors who are 50 years of age or older and survivors with disabilities.
  • Reauthorizes and updates the SMART Prevention Program to reduce dating violence, help children who have been exposed to domestic violence, and engage men in preventing violence.
  • Provides economic security assistance for survivors by reauthorizing the National Resource Center on Workplace Response. Expands the program to support sexual harassment victims and ensure that the program’s resources are available to private-sector businesses with fewer than 20 employees in addition to public-sector entities.
  • Improves the medical response to instances of domestic violence and sexual assault, including expanding access to medical forensic examinations after a sexual assault for survivors who live in rural communities.